25 October 2006

Phonics, Streaming and Paying Teachers Properly

Setting higher education to one side, on education we can expect the following things from a Conservative government. Less paperwork, guidelines, initiatives, target-setting and dogma. More decentralization, choice, freedom and flexibility. That’s all about instinct, not policy. The levels of literacy amongst our school-leavers are a disgrace and so are the levels of achievement. I have a large degree of respect both for David Willetts (Education Minister) and Nick Gibb (Schools Minister). Reading the runes the empirically successful techniques of phonics and streaming are likely to be implemented in the early years of a Conservative administration. Even if we were in coalition with the Dems this is an area where I would expect a lot of progress from what I consider to be a standing start (i.e where Labour will leave us). Although more contentious another expectation is that the status of the teaching profession will be enhanced. This means paying teachers more – I would expect something in return. I would like to see tough competition for teaching jobs. I want to see a time when the top reason for teachers leaving the profession before retirement is because they are not good enough, not because of unruly kids or too much paperwork. Does the above go far enough? Is this a platform we can run on?


Anonymous said...

umm- more competition by teachers ! Have you any idea how difficult it is to become a teacher. Having a good Honours degree and in the middle of deciding a career change, I was approached by the DTTR to attend a seminar on becoming a Maths teacher as I was told there was a desperate shortage. What is involved is a six months conversion course which if it is Maths/Science the Government will pick up part of the tab, then a twelve month course to obtain a PGCE- 18 months. AND there is no funding for the extremely limited places available for over a year. So from a standing start you are looking at 30 months to be let loose on Children. I was told I was an ideal candidate and would not have discipline problems due to my age (not sure how I took that) and this was in a subject they have desperate need for. This bit definately requires a good hard look at, otherwise any new Tory Administration would be nearly halfway through its term before it saw a difference. I have elected to stay in the business world as the unarmed combat training given by the gttr was poor, but the diversity training seemed to go on forever.

Praguetory said...

We can make short-term impacts on our education system with some of the other listed measures. If we managed to make a longer-term impact on the general quality of the teaching profession within a Parliament that would be pretty impressive in my book. After all, look what Brown said today after 9 years in government - our schools are no better.

My philosophy re teachers is similar here to police. When do you ever hear of a police officer losing his/her job because he/she didn't arrest enough people? I want our public services to be staffed with the most effective people.

PS - I am sure there are ways of assisting career changes less painfully and in a shorter timeframe. That is a challenge the Tories should rise to.

Anonymous said...

Go for it ! PS has Cameron got something else on his mind this is the second abysmal performance at PMQ he has put in ?

Praguetory said...

I don't like to make a friend uncomfortable, but Mike over at Conservatives Abroad started a PMQ scorecard after the hiding Cameron gave Blair a few weeks back. I understand it's been dire since then. I can't understand why tax cuts are a point of weakness for the Tories at the moment. I blame Osbourne and Cameron for propogating rubbish economic theory.

Buster George said...

We all hear ideas flowing from ministers almost every day. However there is one group of people that seem to have been ignored in these suggestions, the teachers.

They know what needs to be done and how to do it.

I work in schools every day and have watched the ever increasing pressure to complete the ever increasing amount of paper work and intrusions in teaching methods make a negative impact.

Give the teachers the tools to do the job, and remove the obstacles.

Praguetory said...

I think teachers should teach. I'm of the view that duties such as taking the register, playground duties and discipline should not be done by professional teachers.

Buster, you may be interested in this post from Tory conference. I'd be interested on whether you side with the union leader or the minister.

Anonymous said...

Prague Tory

You think teachers should be paid more. Why do you think their pay is inadequate? How much do you think they are paid? I think they get paid more than squaddies in Iraq and Afghanistan and they get more holiday. When I taught (admittedly in higher education)I thought I was very well paid. The pay was not the problem but the pc gramscian environment in which I operated was. Are you sure you are a Tory?

As for the time it takes to qualify, so what. It takes time to qualify in most professions. Ps to other poster, "definitely" does not have an "a" in it.

Praguetory said...

My primary issue is that the status of teachers in society is low and falling - and that that is a problem. A good way of illustrating this is the fall in the number of male teachers - which in itself has been damaging. Whilst other measures are important to elevate the status of teachers I think that cash has to be part of the equation.

I am not sure which element of what I am saying is not Tory. Personally, I'd like to have this debate in isolation from discussions about armed service pay.

Buster George said...


I find myself siding with the minister on this, but find it less surprising than I thought.

There seems to be more and more concern from non teaching people about the psychological and emotional aspects when trying to teach.

Teachers battle against new initiatives that intrude on lesson time, they seemingly pop up from the initiative police on a daily basis.

I believe that an evidence based policy would be a more sensible option for schools.

As much as I hate the term back to basics, I think that we need to seriously apply the basics to the national curriculum.

As for the comment that IT teachers/skills are a passing fad,

It shows the disassociation from reality in schools for anyone to suggest this.

There is so much information available to staff and pupils alike that IT skills and the people to teach how to access it are going to be a key element for the future. For those who doubt it look at how we gather the information to blog and form opinions on current events.

Anonymous said...

Prague Tory

OK, I take it you concede that teachers pay is OK and that they get more than squaddies.

I agree status/respect is a problem. A small point is that like any other profession some members deserve it and some do not. The wider point however is discipline. Discipline and deference in society have deliberately been undermined for at least the last forty years but particularly so in state schools. All the rest including respect, status, qualifications and pay follow from this.

Anonymous said...

PraPrague Tory

I kI know it is a bit off topic but if you can read this piece by Boris Johnson:


Praguetory said...

That's one of the main reasons I am in politics. You made a wider point about discipline. My even wider point would be about regarding people in the system. In the UK today on multiple levels it pays not to be in the system. The government whacks you when you are in the system whether it be NI (with no pension) high road tax and insurance (but virtually nil penalty for transgressors) no enforcement of debts (as long as you are of no fixed abode), whacking companies with red tape (whilst they are competing with an uncontrolled black market) - the list goes on.

In my world, the people within the system would benefit. There is much work to do.